One of the biggest “issues” for artists and craftspeople (particularly women) is how to price their creations. And for the average shopper, price sometimes is a determining factor in whether that item will make it off the shelf and to a new home. On limited incomes, many of us look for the deal or the lowest price- although that doesn’t always guarantee the best quality. While the handmade artist must cover all expenses, from business overhead, the cost of supplies and the value of their time like any other big business, it is very difficult to compete with similar items factory-manufactured cheaply in other countries. Small, independent artists and businesses rely on our neighbors to not only value the creativity put into designs and handmade wares, but also recognize the value of spending dollars locally.
When you buy something from a big-box store, like a Target or Walmart for example, your dollars leave our community pretty quickly. When you buy that similar item from a locally-owned independent store, your dollars stay in the community for much longer, and have the opportunity to work on behalf of your neighborhood. So even if the item is priced a few dollars higher at the local store versus the big-box, it’s important to think beyond the immediate return and think longer term. If that dollar has a chance to circulate between more hands in our neighborhood, more people benefit. In places like the Hill District where local economies are suffering, it’s not just due to low cash flow- it’s also a huge result of how and where that money is spent. And the other benefit of a local business is the accountability they have to the community in which they reside. Many times that business gives to the neighborhood in real and tangible ways, so your dollar is putting in more work. And if the business is not, you should have access to the owner/operator to suggest ways they can give back to the neighborhood that supports their business. Economics is a relationship of value, worth and choices- let’s do our best to choose the options that support more of what we care about and not less.